Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Spotlight

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): A CSA refers to a particular network, or association of individuals, who have pledged to support one or more local farms, with growers and consumers sharing the risks and benefits of food production.


Food Justice Spotlight: Green Urban Lunchbox

by Hannah Nelson

“Regardless of social status people should have access to the same quality of food as everyone else.”- Shawn Peterson

As I approached The Green Urban Lunchbox’s farm location I was greeted by a friendly dog splashing through the muddy driveway. The founder, Shawn Peterson agreed to meet me, so there I was looking at what seemed to be an old ambulance parked just off the driveway to the farm. Shawn and I made introductions. As we spoke, he continued to work on his project within the innards of the ambulance. Of course before we could really get to chatting, I had to ask what the scoop was on the ambulance. Peterson purchased the ambulance to transport cider from The Green Urban Lunchbox’s Fruitshare project. Talk about ultimate repurposing! It made sense to find Peterson working on repurposing a vehicle in this manner. The Mobile Market which is carried out within a former school bus was in many ways the beginning of The Green Urban Lunchbox as an organization.  According to Peterson, the Mobile Market began as a moving art piece geared toward spiking people’s interests in alternative methods of food production. Initially his intention was not to create the organization that The Green Urban Lunchbox has become today. Before Peterson’s seven years with The Green Urban Lunchbox he sailed in the South Pacific Ocean, and spent time working in the restaurant industry. In this time he began to feel more concern for where his food came from, and how it affected not only himself but the environment as well. Thus spawned the first version of the Mobile Market, an attempt to get people’s gears turning about food systems.

The Green Urban Lunchbox bus. Photo:

The Green Urban Lunchbox has several inspiring programs in its arsenal including, Back-Farms, Mobile Market, Fruitshare, and Small Farm Initiative. Back-Farms couples with senior citizens that would like their back yards to be utilized for growing food, but cannot garden on their own.  Mobile Market is a variation on how The Green Urban Lunchbox began. The Mobile Market is a school bus that has been converted into a greenhouse, and used to transport affordable fresh produce to food deserts in Salt Lake City. Fruitshare allows people to register their fruit trees to be harvested by volunteers, so that the otherwise wasted fruit can be put to good use. Small Farm Initiative is an educational program that trains participants in practical urban farming. Shawn relayed that most of these programs arose out of community need more than anything. For example, Back-Farms’ creation is in part due to the persistence of a senior citizen named Fran. Fran continually approached Peterson in hopes that he would find someone to garden in her back yard. Peterson finally decided that he would take her up on her offer, and it was a success. From Fran’s back yard, Back-Farms was created, and continues to serve senior citizens today.

Inside the bus with Shawn. Photo:

The Green Urban Lunchbox covers a lot of ground in terms of what their programs’ goals and areas of focus are. I asked Peterson what overarching goals can be identified throughout these various programs. To which, Peterson spoke of the importance of having a connection with food and where it comes from. All of these programs put volunteers and the community into closer contact with the origins of their food. The Small Farm Initiative specifically, allows participants to create an economically viable career out of farming skills. I wondered if programs like these would make sense in urban areas other than Salt Lake City. Though there could be versions of these programs in other locations, Salt Lake City does have some unique aspects that make these programs particularly efficacious. Peterson brought to my attention the amount of space available in Utah, especially in regard to the Back-Yard program. The senior citizens participating in this program have large yards, which may not be present in other urban areas. The Fruitshare program makes sense in Utah where early pioneers planted an abundance of fruit trees. Introducing organizations like The Green Urban Lunchbox into communities, is all about adapting to local regions and needs. ⚘



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